At last Thursday's TribLive conversation, I interviewed Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples about the impact of drug-fueled violence on border farmers and ranchers — and the web site he maintains to collect tales of the war in progress.Full Story
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is the state agency charged with overseeing agricultural business and collecting statistics on crops and livestock. The agency was established by the Texas Legislature in 1907.
TDA is based in Austin, Texas and has five regional offices, four satellite offices, seven laboratories and six livestock export facilities.
The commissioner of agriculture, who is elected ...
An unexpected casualty of the drug-cartel-fueled lawlessness in Mexico: the cattle industry.Full Story
Conversations about the coming Hispanic majority and the 82nd session from our New Day Rising symposium, M. Smith on the latest tort reform battle, Galbraith on greater scrutiny of the gas industry, Ramsey on whether lawmakers will cut their own pay and benefits, Ramshaw and Aguilar on what's holding up abortion sonogram legislation, Aguilar on the ag commissioner's controversial new website, Philpott on what $9.8 billion in public education cuts looks like, Hamilton on a snippy exchange of higher ed letters and Grissom on the latest court decision in the Hank Skinner case: The best of our best content from March 7 to 11, 2011.Full Story
Urban luxuries — say, running water — aren’t guaranteed everywhere in Texas. The state Department of Rural Affairs helps rural Texans get basic amenities, but the agency is on Gov. Rick Perry's budget chopping block.Full Story
A proposal by the Obama administration that would grant Mexican truckers greater access to Texas roadways would be a boon for business in the state, supporters say, since three of the top five ports for trade between the U.S. and Mexico are Laredo, El Paso and Houston. But unions contend the plan would cost American jobs. “This cheap-labor program comes at too high a risk and at too large a cost to middle-class American workers who work long, hard hours to help maintain a safe commerce system in our nation,” says a spokesman for the Texas AFL-CIO.Full Story
Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads his Democratic challenger, Bill White by 10 points — 50 percent to 40 percent — in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Libertarian Kathie Glass has the support of 8 percent of respondents; Deb Shafto of the Green Party gets 2 percent. In the last UT/TT poll, conducted in early September, Perry led by 6 points, 39 percent to 33 percent. In a red state in a red year, GOP incumbents in other statewide races are beating their Democratic opponents by between 13 points and 20 points, the new poll found.Full Story
Thevenot on the fastest-growing charter school chain in Texas, Hu on the continuing legal fights between tort reformers and trial lawyers over the state's windstorm insurance pool, Hamilton on the push for accountability in Texas colleges, Philpott on legislative skirmishing over federal education funds, Grissom on misdemeanor convicts choosing jail time instead of probation that's more expensive for them but cheaper for the state, M. Smith on Bill Flores' challenge in what's billed as the hottest congressional race in the country, Ramshaw looks at scandals that have put some otherwise safe statehouse incumbents in deep electoral trouble, yours truly on the closest and ugliest race on the statewide ballot and Galbraith and Titus on pollution from idling vehicles and why it's so hard to control: The best of our best from September 27 to October 1, 2010.Full Story
In a year that appears to be custom-made for GOP statewide candidates, the last thing Todd Staples wanted was for Hank Gilbert to make the race for agriculture commissioner interesting, let alone turn it into a minor spectacle. "I have an opponent who is a pathological political liar," says Staples, the Republican incumbent, citing a list of transgressions. "This guy is likely the most unfit person to run for office in recent Texas history." Gilbert says things are going just the way he'd hoped. "I like where we are," the Democratic challenger says. "I like that we've gotten under his skin a little bit."Full Story
The latest twist in the ag commissioner race: Democratic Challenger Hank Gilbert is accusing incumbent Todd Staples of killing nine people.Full Story
The recently released map of Texans' access to high-speed internet is a new flashpoint in the race for state Agriculture Commissioner. At issue is the nonprofit behind it, Connected Nation, which received $3 million in federal money for the project under current commissioner Todd Staples' auspices.Full Story
Texas' participation in the federally funded summer food service program is dismally low compared to the national average — meaning only a small percentage of the state's 2.5 million low-income kids are getting free meals.Full Story
Most Americans can access broadband internet services where they live, but in rural Texas, some still lack the kind of connectivity that allows them to get online without the hassles of dial-up. On June 14, the Texas Department of Agriculture will release information on the state of connectivity in Texas, including maps of where Texans have the best — and worst — internet access.Full Story
Nearly two months after border-area cattle inspection stations in Mexico ceased operations amid security concerns, the sites have reopened on the Texas side of the border. A popular South Texas lake, however, is now on the radar.Full Story
A West Texas town is challenging an oil tycoon and former GOP gubernatorial nominee over the depletion of its municipal water source. Whether David defeats Goliath is up to an 11-member groundwater conservation district.Full Story
He may be able to address complex issues in his two-minute radio broadcasts, but some of Jim Hightower's distinctive storytelling begs for more time.Full Story
Hank Gilbert maintains a sizable lead over Kinky Friedman with nearly half of votes counted.Full Story
Ramshaw on the state's quiet sharing of infant blood samples with the military and on the things Rick Perry's opponents aren't saying about him, Grissom on Farouk Shami's surprising popularity in El Paso, Philpott on the political advantages of a job creation fund and how Debra Medina's supporters are reacting to her "truther" comments, Hu on Debra Medina in the latest installment of Stump Interrupted, Thevenot on how the kids feel about the federal option of closing bad high schools, Rapoport on the newest mutation of the state's pay-as-you-go transportation philosophy, and our roundup of party primaries in the last week before the election: Rapoport on HD-7, Ramsey on HD-11, Aguilar on HD-36 and HD-43, Philpott on HD-47, Thevenot on HD-52 and SD-5, Kreighbaum on HD-105 and one Supreme Court race, M. Smith on another, and Hamilton on the colorful Democratic candidates for Agriculture Commissioner. The best of our best from February 22 to 26, 2010.Full Story
This is the final day of early voting — a period in which many more energized and engaged Texans cast ballots for their favorite candidates than their counterparts did in 2006. During the last two weeks, we've published fifteen installments in our Primary Color series, analyzing the marquee contested party primaries for Texas House and Senate seats, for Congressional seats, and for slots on the State Board of Education and the Texas Supreme Court. Today we present the last five of our stories. Brian Thevenot reports on the face-off between very different GOP insiders to take on state Rep. Diana Maldonado, D-Round Rock, in House District 52. Julian Aguilar looks at the ideological purity test in HD-43, where incumbent Tara Rios Ybarra, D-South Padre Island, has been called a "closet Republican" by her Democratic challenger. Reeve Hamilton explains how Democrats have to choose between an Agriculture Commissioner candidate with ranching experience and one who's the consummate promoter. Andrew Kreighbaum weighs in on the six-way free-for-all to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill in Place 3. And Ross Ramsey contemplates the potential karmic payback of state Rep. Chuck Hopson, of Jacksonville, who quit the Democratic party and filed for reelection as a Republican, only to find two GOP primary opponents lying in wait.Full Story
Will the Democrats choose the most serious guy in the race, a rancher with hands-on experience? Or the consummate promoter — someone who'll sell Texas goods to America and the world with gusto and bravado, the way he sells his cigars, salsa, music, and one-liners?Full Story